Synopses & Reviews
If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if its impossible to “have it all,” if people dont have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support child rearing, then why do it? And why are anxious new parents flocking to every Tiger Mother and Bébé-raiser for advice on how to raise kids?
In Why Have Kids?, Valenti explores these controversial questions through on-the-ground reporting, startling new research, and her own unique experiences as a mom. She moves beyond the black and white “mommy wars” over natural parenting, discipline, and work-life balance to explore a more nuanced reality: one filled with ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion.
Would-be parents must navigate the decision to have children amidst a daunting combination of cultural expectations and hard facts. And new parents find themselves struggling to reconcile their elation with the often exhausting, confusing, and expensive business of child care. When researchers for a 2010 Pew study asked parents why they decided to have their first child, nearly 90 percent answered, for “the joy of having children.” Yet nearly every study in the last ten years shows a marked decline in the life satisfaction of those with kids. Valenti explores this disconnect between parents hopes and the day-to-day reality of raising children—revealing all the ways mothers and fathers are quietly struggling. A must-read for parents as well as those considering starting a family, Why Have Kids? is an explosive addition to the conversation about modern parenthood.
"When her daughter was born at 28 weeks, leaving mother and child dangerously ill, Valenti felt enormous disappointment and a sense of failure. Not only had she missed a 'good birth' resulting in a full-term healthy baby and happy family, her expectations surrounding the experience, the elation and bonding she had been societally conditioned to encounter, were unfulfilled. In this, her fourth book a politicized, anti-What to Expect When You're Expecting the high-profile, third-wave feminist takes an intense and scathing look at charged contemporary parenting issues, moving beyond 'mommy wars' and breast-is-best militants to show just how much the current American ideal of parenting fails to match reality. With post-partum panic past, and her child thriving, Valenti probes accepted practices and questions the pervasive philosophy of modern mothering, with its many fallacies and assumptions including: alarming pre-conception and pregnancy advisories; whether women are naturally better parents; and if mothering is the hardest job in the world. Valenti pointedly reveals how trading a career for staying at home with the kids, the myth of the 'perfect mother,' and the death of the nuclear family damaged more women than society will acknowledge. Occasionally, a reader may be unsure whether Valenti is airing her own grievances or those of mommy-bloggers and the media; but that aside, this timely volume, which should generate much controversy, is a call for much-needed change and may unite a new generation of moms. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“This timely volume, which should generate much controversy, is a call for much-needed change and may unite a new generation of moms.” — Publishers Weekly
“This timely volume, which should generate much controversy, is a call for much-needed change and may unite a new generation of moms.” -Publishers Weekly
“Timely…[Valenti] states early on that her book is meant to anger people and incite discussions…She wades deeply into the moral and logistical problems facing mothers, with interviews, research and her own anecdotal experiences.” -Kirkus Reviews
“For mothers like Valenti, who felt guilty admitting impatience at the drudgery and boredom that constitutes much of parenting, this book may be a revelation. And a comfort.” - People Magazine
“A brave and bracing critique of our unrealistic parenting ideals.” - Elle
“Theres a lot of really profound, great questions in this book. As a new father myself, they cut pretty deep.”- Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and the author of Twilight of the Elites.
“In a culture that glamorizes motherhood, Jessica Valenti daringly articulates the hard work and the personal decisions that are an essential part of parenting. This book is a must-read for new parents.” -Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, New York Times best-selling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
“Jessica Valenti is a breath of fresh air. She offers the kind of raw honesty that can feel like a punch in the gut, but leaves you with the warmth of a deep embrace.” - Ms. Magazine
“Jessica has been hailed as one of the most influential female voices of the last decade, so its not surprising that after she had her first child, she had plenty to say about the culture of modern motherhood.” -Meagan Francis, Babble.com
“When it comes to unpacking what it means to be female in America right now, Jessicas one of the smartest minds out there.” -Jesse Ellison, The Daily Beast
“In Why Have Kids?, feminist author Jessica Valenti poses a question that few people actually wrestle with before taking the plunge into parenthood.” - Lori Leibovich,Huffington Post
One of “20 New Releases Check Out” in The Atlantics Fall Books Preview
A “Fall 2012 Must Read” -Huffington Post
“Why Have Kids? should be required reading in sex education classes.” - Kathy Megyeri, USA Today Letter to the Editor
From the most high-profile young feminist in America, a provocative and brutally honest exploration of modern parenthood.
If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if it's impossible to "have it all," if people don't have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support parenting, then why do it? In Why Have Kids?
Jessica Valenti asks this the controversial—but necessary—question. Through on-the-ground reporting, new scientific studies, and her own burgeoning motherhood, Valenti offers an in-depth exposé into the world of having (and not having) children. She cites shocking statistics about parental happiness and child care, new science that's shaking up the parent-advice industry, and stories from a generation of parents who are finding out that having kids isn't all they thought it would be.
Why Have Kids? presents startling, new material that will change the way you think about the age-old questions of children, parenting, and happiness.
A provocative and intimate exploration of modern parenthood by “a gutsy young third wave feminist”—The New York Times
If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if its impossible to “have it all,” if people dont have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support parenting (fewer than 5% of American families employ a nanny), then why do it? And why are anxious new parents flocking to every Tiger Mother and Bébé-raiser for advice on how to raise kids?
In Why Have Kids?, Valenti explores these controversial questions through on-the-ground reporting, startling new research, and her own unique experiences as a mom. She moves beyond the black and white “mommy wars” over natural parenting, discipline, and work-life balance to explore a more nuanced reality: one filled with ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion. A must-read for parents as well as those considering starting a family, Why Have Kids? is an explosive addition to the conversation about modern parenthood.
About the Author
Jessica Valenti is the author of three previous books, including The Purity Myth: How Americas Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. She is also the founder of Feministing.com, which the Columbia Journalism Review called “head and shoulders above almost any writing on womens issues in mainstream media.” Jessica—called one of the top 100 inspiring women in the world by the Guardian—speaks at universities and organizations in the U.S. and abroad about feminism, activism, and media. Shes been selected as a 2012-2013 fellow by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where shell research and develop a plan for a national think tank grounded in digital feminism and its communities. She lives with her family in Boston, but remains a New Yorker at heart.
Read exclusive essays by Jessica Valenti from 2009